Monthly Archives: February 2012

I’m in the mood for: angular tables

Sometimes you want regular geometry, and others, you crave something new and different. Lately I’ve been looking for tables with interesting and unexpected angles, which could bring some juxtaposition against a more conventional piece. What do you think of these?

faktura-tre-table The Faktura Tre console table’s three legs give an interesting silhouette. $360 from AllModern.

ypsilon-dining-table The Ypsilon round dining table boasts angled “Y” framing, $299 from Crate & Barrel.

origami-end-table Love these origami side tables from MIO, $185.

razor-table The slightly precarious Razor bent glass end table, $329 from blueprint.


The gear coffee table from cb2 is quite the balancing act ($299).

arktura-consolearktura-console
Check out the uneven, angular legs of the Arktura Pac console. From AllModern.

x-base-table This x-base table has a little kick to hold books and magazines. $206 from Wayfair.

angular-side-table Love these interesting shapes from Jochem Faudet.

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Roomology loves: Gallery walls (a how-to!)

Gallery walls have always been popular, but now more than ever I see them popping up everywhere — from designer rooms to DIY blogs — so I decided that 2012 was the year of my gallery wall.  Before we get into my masterpiece, here are some of inspirational images of gallery walls.

Featured on HouseBeautiful.com.  Using different frames can sometimes lead to a disconnection between the pieces, but this works because they all have a unified subject: the owner’s collection of figure sketches.  I especially love the added bonus of the sculpture at the bottom of the stairs.

If you are going for a more sleek and modern look, follow what Samantha Pynn did for this bachelor pad.  Identical frames and mats were used with a combination of black and white photos in a contemporary geometric grid.

The classic staircase gallery maximizes an unusual wall shape.  Designer Eric Cohler got this right by keeping all the images in the same neutral color palette.

Kelly Werstler’s Viceroy Santa Monica uses all rectangular mirrors, taking the images out of the equation.

This designer proves the power of creativity and spray paint.  Here, the asymmetric placement makes each frame stands out on its own, yet still feel like part of the family.  And if you have a neutral area and need a pop of color, this idea allows you to be bold without overdoing it.

Regular geometry is relaxing to the eye.  I also love the use of a vintage map.  In this one (from House Beautiful), the simple sepia tones work well with all the different textiles and patterns.

Simply brilliant!  I would have never thought to bring the gallery wall into a powder room, but after looking at this image I cannot believe I didn’t think of this sooner.   Via Design Sponge.

Need some inspiration near your workspace?  A gallery wall can be the answer.  I love how this  looks as though it grew organically.  I love the dusty tones and how it complements the muted rug.

Use a gallery wall to show off your child’s art work!  You could have the coolest playroom on the block.

Now a few things to remember when creating your gallery wall

1.  Try to be as unique as you can.  See what you have around the house first, then decide what you want to display and what you can put back in the closet.

2.  A can of paint is your best friend.  If you absolutely love a frame but it does not work for whatever reason, you can give it new life for $6.

3.  Plan as much as you can.  Go back to good old paper and pen, sketch out your initial idea, then practice on the wall with large pieces of newspaper or scrap paper in the exact sizes of the frames.  Make sure you label each piece to match with the artwork to keep everything organized.

4.  Have fun with this.  Make your gallery wall your own!  Let it show your unique interests, and it will be something you smile at every time you pass by.

I spent 2 full weekends working on my own gallery wall.  Most of the time spent was figuring out the layout I wanted and the frames I needed.  Here is my lonely empty wall that was neglected for almost 3 years. 

As you can see the wall is empty and therefore very intimidating!

And here is my finished product.  I mixed in a large painting at the bottom and the rest are images I took myself from traveling abroad.  Because the rest of the room is more contemporary with clean lines and any asymmetrical layout I attempted just did not work, I decided on a semi-grid pattern.  All the frames are from Ikea and I ordered my prints from Smugmug.com.  In total I probably spent around $250 with frames and prints.. not too bad considering this wall is finally finished and my travel memories are now proudly on display.

Have you attempted your own gallery wall?  If so, send us your photos!

Countertops that look like white marble (take two)

So it turns out that white carrara marble counters are all anyone really wants in their kitchen.  You can barely open a design magazine without seeing a kitchen done with white marble.  Of course, given Murphy’s Law, white marble counters are completely impractical for the kitchen (too soft and stainable).  Given this conundrum, I thought it was high time to revisit my original blog post on Alternatives to White Marble Countertops, as it turns out that I left off some choices worth mentioning.  (If you want a discussion of white granites and quartzites, refer to the original post.)  So, without further ado, here is my new and improved list of engineered countertops made to look like white marble.engineered-stone-look-like-white-marble

1) Dupont Zodiaq Okite in Bianco Carrara is bright warm white with a contrasting “vein.”  I do like a higher-contrast appearance, even though this one doesn’t look all that realistic.

dupont-zodiaq-bianco-carrara

2) Silestone in Lyra: I like the contrast and the bright white background, but this one definitely looks like swirls rather than veins.silestone-lyra

3) Quantra in Carrara: A low contrast surface with grey swirls.quantra-carrara

4) Cambria in Torquay: Low contrast, but a bright white background with a realistic-looking grey vein.cambria-torquay

cambria-torquay

Cambria Torquay

5) Caesarstone in Misty Carrera: Emphasis on the “Misty,” this surface looks more on the grey side.caesarstone-misty-carreracaesarstone-misty-carrera

6) Stone Italiana in KSoul: Even though this is a teeny bit greyish, I think it’s quite beautiful.stone-italiana-ksoul

stone-italiana-ksoul

7) LG Viatera in Bianco White: I actually like a higher-contrast look, so I’m a fan of this one.lg-viatera-bianco-white

lg-viatera-bianco-white

lg-viatera-bianco-white

8) VMC Trafficstone in Aurina: A low-contrast, speckled white.

vmc-trafficstone-aurina

So there you have it.  Love to hear from anyone who has experience with any of these — whether good or bad. 🙂

Patterned Curtains, Round 2: A Lesson in Focal Points

So, in my previous post on Mixing Patterns I gave a warning about patterned window treatments, and I wanted to circle back and talk about this further. Now I wasn’t saying it as a rule, but more as a caution. The thing is, bright, patterned curtains can draw your eye up and away from the room, and so if you’re using them, you want to make sure that’s the intended effect.

Now here we come to a conclusion that, while supersimple, took me until the end of my degree to realize: a room can only have one focal point. You could think of a focal point as an area in the room that is the first place your eye goes. In your typical 4-sided room, many people will just pick one wall, usually because it has an architectural detail, a fireplace, a large work of art or furniture (a bed), or (hey, we’re Americans here), a TV. This is the derivation of the (oft-misused) accent wall. Let’s see some examples…

fireplace-focal-point-living-roomFireplace as focal point. The circular sculpture is almost like a target that says, “BAM. LOOK HERE.” (Note the neutral curtains in the background.) Via thelennoxx.

artwork-focal-point-diningA wall of art as focal point. For me, the yellow leaves at the right lead you around a harmonious circle.

bookcase-focal-pointJust try to get your eyes off that enormous bookshelf. From Domino.

geometry-focal-pointArchitectural detail as focal point: geometry, geometry, geometry. 4 wood beams lead us to 4 squares of color with a minimalist fireplace. Brilliant. From Peggyandfritz.

TV-focal-pointHere, they’ve almost created a fireplace surround for their TV with an accent wall and contrasting trim, and even the large-scale artwork to the left can’t compete. (Some designers are elitist towards TVs, but I say, if what you’re going to do in a room 90% of the time is watch TV, embrace it.)

So we can see that focal points are achieved by:
1) either bright colors or use of contrast
2) by being at eye level, and/or
3) via circular or linear geometry.

Now, the next question is, can a window be a focal point? Of course it can. Check these out:

red-curtain-focal-pointThis is like a gradual seeping of color, from the colorless ghost chairs up to the rust colored curtains. Yes, I’m along for the ride. From Elle Decor.

contrast-curtain-focal-point-living-room These light gray curtains pop out against the red background, and the curlicues at the top serve to further focus your attention. From Elle Decor.

window-treatment-focal-point-dining Window treatments are often given center stage in more traditional looks. The Richard Keith Langham dining room from the 2010 Hamptons Show House.

Now, the question you have to ask yourself when considering your window treatments is, do you want your window to be the focal point of your room? If the answer is yes, go ahead and throw up some bright, fun colors. If the answer is no, then your window treatments are not a main player, they’re a supporting role. The natural syllogism is that in that case, the curtains ought to be less bright or busy than the focal point. You can definitely use colors or patterns in this case, but they should be secondary, so that you don’t suffer from competing focal points, like these:


Notice that in both of the above, the curtains are the brightest thing in the room, but they feel awkward because they’re competing against a natural focus point (the bed and the TV). This is why I focus on curtains as a particular danger: because they’re naturally going to be high on the wall, so they pose a big threat to the harmony of the room. The moral of the story: one focal point = harmony and relaxation. Multiple focus points can create visual confusion and overwhelm the viewer.

Here’s some good examples of bright or patterned window treatments in a supporting role:

patterned-curtain-living-room Love these fun patterned curtains, which don’t detract from the bright sofa cushions and Moroccan poufs. Designed by one of my favorites, Mona Berman, and featured in House Beautiful.

patterned-curtain-living-room Purple, flowered curtains take a back seat to a bright sofa and artwork. From Elle Decor.

patterned-curtain-living-room Subtle patterned curtains work where darker, higher contrast artwork is the focal point. House Beautiful.

patterned-curtain-living-room A patterned curtain is upstaged by a brighter, smaller pattern on the seating and pillows. From Domino.

So there you have it. Multiple years’ design education summed up in one blog post. What do you think? Please comment. And if you’re considering new window treatments, please email us your questions (and attach photos)! We love reader questions and learn a ton from them. In fact, answers to reader questions have been some of our most-read posts. So fire away! 🙂

Show Your Stairs

A staircase is an integral part of how most homes function.  Many homes however were designed to push the stairs to either the side of the room, back of the house or keep them in the entrance hall as something you quickly pass by.  I think it is about time to push the stairs front and center.  Let them get the attention they deserve and you will see what a beautiful thing it can be.  Here are some of my favorite stair designs where homeowners were not shy to take a chance.  Their risks paid off one step at a time…

 This Gaudi like staircase is truly a piece of art.  The organic forms that begin on the walls and continue to become the treads make it seem as though they were there before the house was.   

Designed by Moon Design and Build based out of the UK, these stairs lead to a loft.  The placement near the windows allows the light to shine through making the stairs look like lattice work.

The profile of a staircase is turned into a beautiful graphic piece when placed against a white backdrop.  The designer took this one step further and played with materials to create a truly distinct contrast.

The Architect firm Jouin Manku designed this spinal cord like stairs for a Malaysian residence in 2008.  I love how they selected glass for the railings making them almost invisible and letting the stairs stand out on their own.  Click on the image to see more images of this amazing house and the firms other work.

There is something to calming and serene about a traditional center staircase.  I love the placement of columns and the simple railing design that seems to go on forever.

Floating stairs by the Italian designer Roberto Murgia.  May not exactly be kid friendly but you cannot deny the beauty of this functional sculpture.

What do you think?  What would you chose to do or what have you done already?  Show us your stairs.

Roomology’s guide for mixing prints and patterns

All this snow has me ready for spring and thinking of flowers…. which has me thinking of a topic I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while: how to mix patterns in a room. I know a lot of people will fight me on this, but I love mixing patterns and prints, like in this amazing room from Southern Living

I know what you’re thinking… that it’s “too much,” that it’s “too fussy,” or at your most generous, “that’s nice, but it’s not me.” To me, though, this space is completely fearless in its use and juxtaposition of patterns. Let’s see… we have a green chinoiserie on the wall, a purple and white area rug with a more modern pattern, and bright geometric pillows in crimson red and black & white. That, my friend, is interior design cojones.

Now look, I’m not saying everyone should or can go to this extent. But I guess I’m at a point where I’m ready to go beyond the stark modernism brought on by midcentury mania and an overemphasis on Scandinavian design. I’m ready for something bolder, more unexpected, more just plain fun. If you’re willing to come along with me, even just incrementally, here are 4 do’s and don’ts for mixing patterns in real life.

1) Beware of patterned window treatments.
Notice that in the Southern Living room, we have loads of color and funky brights, but the window treatments are nice and neutral. Too often, people start with a neutral sofa and don’t get around of thinking about color or pattern until their window treatments or wall covering. This works in more traditional spaces, but in more modern interiors, patterned curtains feel overly fussy (see Exhibits A&B below).

patterned-window-treatmentspatterned-window-treatments
To be honest, I think everything in these rooms work except for the window treatments. Because they’re so bright and busy, they feel old-fashioned; more than that, they take my eye up and away from the nice play of patterns elsewhere. Another problem with patterned draperies is that you don’t have control over the amount of pattern on a consistent basis, because of course the curtains will be open and shut at different times of day. If you’re going to do a pattern in your curtain, best to make it something that won’t compete with the focal point of the room, like in this lovely and modern space:
House to Home.

2) Stripes on the floor work great with floral/geometric seating.
Here we have three rooms with the same tactic: solid walls/windows, striped rugs, and patterned/floral pillows and cushions. A winning combination to incorporate pattern into a modern space.

striped-rug-floral-sofa
From DiggersList.

striped-rug-patterned-seating
Knotting Hill.

striped-area-rug
House Beautiful.

3) Wallpaper doesn’t need to go everywhere.
Wood trim nicely contains just a bit of the pattern; moreover it is challenged here by a modern geometric print on the ottoman. They could take this even further by hanging modern black & white wall art over the papered wall; remember, wall art limits the amount of pattern in the room as well.

framed-wallpaper
From everythingfabulous.

4) Consider a patterned sofa.
If your walls and window treatments are going to be solid, you know where the pattern needs to come in… in your large scale pieces in the room. I know the first thought that most of you have in a new living space: let’s begin with a tan sofa. What I’m suggesting is that a neutral sofa, which you might think matches everything, has limits of its own, because it’s colorless and it takes up a lot of space. If it’s forcing you to use pattern and thus direct attention elsewhere, it is forcing your hand on a number of other choices. I know they’re not for everyone, but here are some of my favorite patterned sofaspattern-sofa
From Domino (RIP).

pattern-sofa
From Elle Decor.

striped-sofa
The Kilim sofa from Anthropologie.

I personally love a plaid sofa…plaid-sofalike this one from apartment therapy.

Here are a few patterned sofas I love…abigail-settee-anthropologie
The Abigail settee from Anthropologie
The Essex sofa from West Elm.essex-sofa-west-elm

ikat-sofa
Ballard Designs has customizable sofas in a variety of patterns. This one is the lovely Toscana Ikat Slate.

Of course, if you’ve already gone the neutral sofa route, you can always fake the look with bright throw pillows:neutral-sofa-bright-throw-pillowsIt’s fun if they’re all different, like this example from Haus Design.

Eames: The Architect and the Painter

Charles and Ray Eames are clearly in the ranks as the most important American designers of 20th century.  They have contributed to industrial design, furniture design, architecture, photography and manufacturing.  The film “Eames: The Architect and the Painter” gives us a long awaited glimpse into the thought process and life of this wonderful couple.  Their ability to take material and mold, bend, paint and use it in ways never thought of before is beyond inspiring for anyone in any field.   I was able to catch it on Netflix this weekend and fell in love all over again with their designs.  From the video below you can see that I am clearly not the only one.

I was first introduced to their designs in my real life drawing class while studying in Milan.  One of our first exams included drawing the Eames storage unit.  As frustrating as it was for someone new to this field, I grew a deep admiration for the piece after looking so closely to all the components.  After staring at the piece and every bar, nut and bolt used I realized the real beauty of their designs are in the details.   Charles Eames said it best himself,  “The details are details. They make the product. The connections, the connections, the connections. It will in the end be these details that give the product its life.” I could not agree more.

The Eames storage unit and matching desk. My first insight to my now favorite designers.

The white chairs on this porch is a perfect complement to the dark wood and green surroundings.

I love the colorful play of pastels in this grey dining room.  And of course combined with a Roomology favorite, the 85 Lamp by Droog design.

The same Eames chairs used in the previous images also go perfectly with this rustic kitchen sitting on top of a cowhide rug.

And one of my all time favorite pieces, the Eames rocking chair.  The bright yellow brings this room to life with a bold splash of color.

I love the simplicity of this dining room combining the Tulip table and classic Eames chairs.  The sunday paper and a fresh cup of coffee would make this setting complete.

It seems as though that chair was made for this room.  Pretty incredible that a chair made in 1946 fits seamlessly in a 21st century room.

And of course the Eames Case Study House #8.  Designed by the pair and made of all “off the shelf” parts. Watch the video in the beginning of the post for more information.   The house is now designated a National Historic Landmark and open to the public for visits.  Check out the Eames Foundation for more information.

Spring 2012 Colors Part II: Pastels and Neutrals

Continued from yesterday, here’s the pastels and neutrals from the Spring 2012 colors, and how to best use them in your interiors.

Margarita… a lovely grayish green.  This may well be one of my favorites… likable enough for a large-scale piece of furniture like a sofa, or even an entire kitchen.
green-sofagreen-Kitchen
From House Beautiful.

Sweet Lilac… I like lilac for bedding in rooms where light blue or green is the primary color.

lilac-bedlight-purple-bed
From decodir and Traditional Home.

Driftwood… LOVE.pantone-driftwood-grey Where wouldn’t this work? But I must say right now I’m into deep grey sofas.
grey-sofa-living-roomgrey-sofa-living-room

Starfish…a medium brown. Pantone-starfish-brown Love this as a backdrop in a small space, like a foyer.

starfish-brown-foyerbrown-foyer
Via homedit and House Beautiful.

Pantone’s Spring 2012 Color Report—and how to use their bright colors in your interiors

Spring well… isn’t in the air, but that hasn’t stopped Pantone from releasing its Spring 2012 Color Report. Here’s where we are this year, and the best ways to use their bright color trends in your home.

Tangerine Tango… a brilliant red-orange, almost like a blood orange. 

Pantone actually named this the Color of the Year for 2012, but I don’t know if I’ve fully wrapped my head around this one. It’s a hard color to work with and match, but because it’s so bright and fun, I think it would work well for casual dining chairs:

orange lacquer wishbone chair
The Henri Dining chair, $168 from Anthropologie; a lacquered version of the wishbone chair, $855 from the DWR.


Orange dining chairs in effect from DWR.

Solar Power… a strong, deep, golden yellow.
I’m obsessed with this color and think it could almost anywhere, but I particularly love it for bright sunny curtains in an otherwise neutral room
yellow-curtain-neutral-wallyellow-curtain-tan-wall
Via apartmenttherapy and decorpad.

Bellflower… a midrange purple.


Very girly color, best to slap it straight onto the walls in a formal, feminine dining room where pretty much everything else is white.

purple-dining-roompurple-dining-room
purple-dining-room
First two from theentertaininghouse; third from Canadian House & Home.

Sodalite blue… a classic navy.
 
Could go just about anywhere… provides a punch of contrast against light walls.

navy-curtain-neutral-wall 

navy-curtain-living-room
Navy curtains a la Windsor Smith (in Rue).

Cabaret… a bright Barbie pink.
pantone-cabaret Yup, that’s bright. But don’t reject it out of hand… just use a little bit. Like as an end table in a girly bedroom:

pink-end-table-bedroompink-end-table-bedroom
From House Beautiful and dighomedesign.

Check in tomorrow, when I’ll go over the Spring 2012 pastels and neutrals.

Roomology’s best interior design of 2011

My post yesterday of Interior Design magazine’s best of 2011 inspired me to find some of my favorite interior design moments of 2011 (never mind that it’s already February). Here’s some of my most memorable of the past year:

BEST OVERALL: Ellen DeGeneres’ and Portia De Rossi’s home (Architectural Digest).
Here are two ladies who really understand design (as do their architects Buff & Hensman and designer Melinda Ritz). In my opinion, they just hit it out of the park. They get awards for awesome artwork, best library,


and most adorable closet,

 where Portia’s heels are juxtaposed with Ellen’s rows of sneakers. Well done, ladies. Well done!

BEST EUROPEAN INTERIOR: Jean-Louis Deniot’s update of a Parisian interior (Elle Décor).

Plenty of designers could take such a splendid backdrop as this and still get it wrong. It’s just the right mix of comfort, visual interest (check out the variety of leg shapes), and whimsy (the floral chandelier).

BEST DINING ROOM: Barry Dixon has long been one of my favorite designers, and I loved this DC rowhouse he did (House Beautiful).

Clean, white, not overdone, upholstered chairs (which my tush is always grateful for), and I love the injection of modern geometry into the otherwise traditional space.

BEST ENTRY: Architects Jane & Michael Frederick call this a “dogtrot” plan, where a wide outdoor corridor runs through the home (the rear is completely open as well). (Southern Living)

I just love the idea of a completely open home. Why should a front door be only 3′ wide?

BEST WEST COAST: Brooke and Steve Giannetti’s California casual home (Veranda).


Beachy and relaxing, and yet a hard-to-pull-off blend of fabrics and furniture styles.

BEST KITCHEN: This was a tough one… but Julie Hayes’ bright yellow Dallas kitchen won out (Veranda).

It’s bright, it’s fun, it’s classic and modern all at once, it’s got an awesome ceiling, and with that polka dot floor, it’s frankly a bit cheeky.

BEST WINDOW TREATMENTS: Try as I might, I could not forget these malachite Roman shades (Anne-Marie Midy and Jorge Almada in Elle Décor).

I love using organic objects to inspire patterns rather than man-made designs, and emerald green is so big right now.

BEST CEILING: Bunny Williams’ blue glass ceiling (Elle Décor).

Without this glossy and unexpected touch, the room might seem predictable.

BEST HIGH GLOSS PAINT: This trend was everywhere in 2011, but my favorite was Stan Topol’s black glossy hallway.

Black paint is mad hard to pull off! but here it works wonderfully as a luxurious backdrop to the artwork and shelves.